St Mark’s Vietnamese Community Celebrating Lunar New Year 2019
1. The meaning of the Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year (Tết Cổ Truyền) is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. It marks a special occasion for families to meet one another, to reunite those that are far and near, and to celebrate together in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.
Traditionally, Vietnamese New Year celebration is carried out for the first three days of the Lunar New Year. The celebrations commonly include: Dragon
dancing is a symbol of strength to scare away the evil spirits and to bring good luck and abundant blessings to the people and to the community.
Lighting fire crackers and fireworks is meant to ward off misfortune and welcome to the New Year with lots of luck, happiness and prosperity. Family
gatherings with special meals and special food such as ‘Bánh chưng’ and ‘Bánh dầy’ brings in the spirit of togetherness and unity. Sending wishes and
greetings, giving red envelopes with lucky money, worshiping Ancestors, visiting friends and relatives are also part of the celebration.
Why do we eat “Bánh chưng” and “Bánh dầy” for New Year? According to the Vietnamese tradition, Bánhchưng (square sticky rice cakes) symbolizes
the “Earth” and Bánhdầy substituted for Bánhtét (round sticky rice cakes) represents “Heaven”. They are the most precious and noble foods to worship
the Ancestors. When we drink water, we must remember the “source” of the water; just the same way eating this noble food is a reminder that we have to
show our gratitude towards our parents who have given us life, nurtured us and deeply cared for us.
2. The Lunar New Year event at St Mark’s
As part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the Vietnamese Catholic Community traditionally celebrates Holy Mass for three consecutive days for:
1st day – Peace in the coming New Year
2nd day – Remembrance and respect of our Ancestors, Parents
3rd day – Sanctifying Jobs and Careers
On the first day of the New Year’s Mass, Fr. Peter Bàng gave a brief introduction about the year of the Pig followed by his homily based on the themes of the readings chosen. He spoke on the first reading with its focus on “God is a Creator” and on the Gospel bearing the theme – ‘Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life what you will eat or drink, or about your body what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?’ (Mt 6:25).
Father Bang gave an incredibly beautiful and meaningful insight on the Gospel, which reflected on Jesus saying to us not to be worried about our lives, our bodies or even what tomorrow may bring. Instead we are to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. We must fully put our faith and firmly believe in a God who is the Creator, the Master of time, the Master of the universe and the Master of every person’s life.
At the end of the Mass, each family received a “Holy gift” – a verse from the Bible, which was beautifully wrapped and hung on the yellow apricot blossom and peach blossom trees. This meant that the families are invited to live the Biblical message they picked up from the trees for the year of the pig. Father Peter then blessed the gifts. When the Mass ended, families, friends and everyone gathered together outside the Church to enjoy the Vietnamese
traditional food and to share the happiness and joy of the New Year.
On the second day of the Mass of New Year, we prayed for our deceased Ancestors, and parents who have gone before us to God’s house. We also asked God to bless our parents and grandparents whom are still here on earth that they may have a good and fulfilling life.
On the third day of the New Year’s Mass, we prayed that everyone may have good jobs and best of luck in our careers. Towards the end of the Mass,
Father Bang gave some lucky money to the children and the elderly who are 80 years and above for good fortune.
On this beautiful occasion we expressed our gratitude for all the blessings in our lives – the blessings of strong faith, home, family, the love that keeps us
close to one another, the joy and the sharing we have among us. In one voice we expressed our thanks to the Lord.
“Thanks be to God” – God has been speaking to us through His Word. Having listened to His Word, may His will become active in our faith journey. May the Word of God take deep roots in our very being and may it help us to enter into an intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Happy Lunar New Year 2019!
St Mark’s Parishioner